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Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
June 12, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 965-967


12th June, 1783.

My Dear Sir:

The date of the inclosed was I find the post day, and you may thank your wife that you do not receive it by that conveyance, as she told me the rider did not go till the day following.

The court finished without trying even a single cause on the civil docket; and indeed left much of the business in great confusion. A great part of the time was employed in bickerings among the judges; particularly between Spencer & Williams. The latter is uncommonly violent, it is thought from popular motives. This disposition blazed out with great indecency in the trial of Mallett who pleaded the Governor’s proclamation of pardon on condition of inlistment. That cause which might have been finished in an hour at furthest, took almost a whole day, owing merely to William’s objections to testimony; to perverse interpretation of the law, & to every thing which he thought could possibly benefit the prisoner.

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He was so ridiculous as to insist that the certificates of Gen. Greene & Col. Lytle were not admissible testimony, and that they ought to have been sworn. Yet it was remarkable that Hostler and Toomer who had previously produced such certificates were discharged, even by consent of Williams without a single objection. The only difference in the two cases was, that the latter were not indicted:—no bills had been found against them. It was further remarkable, that though all the witnesses that could be procured, as well from Cumberland as New Hanover were examined,—Not a tittle appeared against Mallett but his having stood centinel once or twice at Wilmington; and by the same witnesses it was acknowledged, that almost every person was obliged to do so. He is now in statu quo notwithstanding the popular prejudices, & the violence of the legislature.

In the bill of pardon Jewkes’s name was inserted as a an exception, and Read managed so (though he despises the man) as to get him struck out in the House of Commons; but so much afraid, were the members of losing their popularity, that not a man of them would venture to solicit Rutherford that the Senate should agree to the amendment. Read undertook that task and the blood thirsty old scoundrel readily complied, provided he might insert Toomer’s name instead of that of Jewkes. The renowned General wanted another victim and it was immaterial to him who that victim should be.

I have told you that you must become a citizen of S. Carolina as soon as possible. As you intend to stay there it will be a thing of course; but in any certificate which you may produce here I hope I shall see nothing of your having been a British merchant. You have paid respect enough to this State; to people who are not sensible that you have treated them with delicacy. It is now time that you take care of yourself, and take care to collect what is justly due to you.

Jewkes’s trial did not come on. In truth there was not time for it. Besides as one of the board of police, he is not perhaps strictly within the pardon. It was therefore most prudent to postpone his trial till the definitive treaty is made known, when it will be impossible for the Assembly to get over it.

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I have had such a severe return of my complaint, that I have been incapable of business during most of the court, & am now very unfit to write. I must fall upon some method of keeping my declining constitution in order. My disorder is occasioned by costiveness & in every other respect I am as well as ever.

I can say nothing further of my wants than I have already said; only that I must very soon have some 6d, 10d & 20d nails for repairing my buildings. My house must be all shingled anew. If you can send any handkerchiefs, let them be silk with half a dozen pair of strong brown thread stockings.

Mr. W. Campbell will deliver you this. My compliments to your brother.

I hope to see you in the course of this month.

Yours affectionately,

I omitted to tell you that Gaillard’s schooner brought in here two or three days ago from Augustine several of our fugitives. The court were informed of it, and told that there were several very obnoxious characters among them. One of them is Bryan, who was condemned at Salisbury for high treason, & afterwards exchanged as a British subject. The Judges, convinced that they had no power to order them back, referred them to the magistrates, & the latter saw through the evasion. I believe there is no final determination. Gaillard swears he will not carry them back unless he is paid. And I am sure he cannot be obliged to it.